Greetings, Associates of  Cathy Spence,

Cathy has delivered garden examples for your pleasure and entertainment, in part, to encourage you to become a gardener. There are many benefits often sidetracked by a false attitude--"It is a lot of work."

Direct Benefits:

  1. Food budget benefit: We will produce $10,000 in market value vegetable and fruits at about $2.50 per sq.ft which is like $15,000 pre-tax. Our production costs are one to three cents per dollar raised. With food prices escalating faster than the rate of inflation, a garden is money in the bank and a safety net if the economy breaks down, you lose your job, or, worse. Better to have the skills before an emergency than standing on sidelines begging for help.
  2. You have fresh food which you know rather than corporate question marks: GMO? Insecticides? Color dyes?
  3. Canning: It is not hard. Put in a favorite DVD and putz your way through the steps. Mrs. Wagner pre-packaged mixes are the way to start. Our best year was 2012 with 500 quarts. (My first DVD each season is Lord of the Rings Trilogy then the Downton Abbey.) We have a coalbin converted into a root cellar.

Indirect benefits:

  1. If you compare the time and money costs of maintaining a lawn versus growing a garden, it is a wash. You will spend more time in growing grass than in growing food.
  2. If a garden reduces your eating out by one meal a week, that is, an annual $2000 savings, or $80,000 in a 40-year career. Luckily, Cathy and I like cooking and our stirfry is par excellent pour bon appertif. We often forgoe our self-promised monthly datenight for the pleasures of exploring culinary joys.
  3. Save gas from from not driving so much.
  4. Mental health clinic: Less than 10% of garden time is dirt-focused. Most of the activity is automatic which gives you time to think about the rest of life. As an employer, I always encouraged workers to take a couple of hours each weekend to reflect on what went well and bad at work so as to maximize one and minimize the other. A garden is a mental health clinic which recharges your batteries while bonding you with the primordial rhythm of life derived from being at one with Mother Nature. Sounds kooky, but it captures the essence of being surrounded by a myriad of miracles, e.g., a pinhead tomato seed produces dozens of 16" baseball-size gorgeous tomatos. Or, consider the weakly plant that you give a little extra attention which becomes the garden champion--a metaphor for life. A garden is better and cheaper than a shrink for your mental worries but not as good as a real friend. A garden helps you become more of your own person as you reflect on your views and values. (If you are going to earplug music that will self-distract your cogitations, you might as well go be a couch potato instead of trying to raise some garden potatos. Most people don't have personalities because they are always self-distracting, digitating either iPads or iPuds to the detriment of intra- and inter-personal growth, to wit, smart phones dumb people down. [I maintained one of the first two cell phones in the 1960s: They were for the President to conduct nuclear war.])
  5. By reducing or eliminating the angst of everyday life, a garden saves $1,000's by eliminating the very expensive and wasteful "shop till ya drop." I estimate our annual savings from not buying unneeded new cars, clothes and houses (35 years at 3600 Anne St), at over $25,000. This allows us more free time and funds to donate to many worthwhile causes. A $200 dress or suit is not as rewarding as a recurrent smile and thanks from helping others help themselves.
  6. If you have children, you can share the joy until they start grumbling which is a perfect time to begin teaching the work ethic. If you give a child a series of toys and players, you affirm them for a serices of days. If you teach the work ethic, you affirm them for a lifetime for themselves and for you. The parents who teach the work ethic have children in later years who say, "How can I help?" rather than "Give me more." (Weed pulling without earphones is good for a child developing a better personality for self, others and you.)
  7. Abraham Lincoln said one will measure one's live in the friends they made. Life is a series of memories which is all we have to show for what we did with our time. A garden can be a catalyst to a happier, freer life grounded in the ground from which all life springs.
  8. At the risk of being a garden snob, discussing gardens is more rewarding than obsessing on world soccer or other habitual playgames, to wit, I am a water ergo more rather than wasto ergo sum.
  9. You will be happier with whom you are and become as a result of raising a garden. All those old folks with gardens did not do it for the food out of desperation but for the pleasure. Cathy and I look forward to our morning tour with coffee in hand to see what Santa Claus left us overnight.


  1. Give up the rat race for the root race.
  2. Give up shop till ya drop for grow till ya glow.
  3. Don't fertilize and mow when you can fertilize and grow.

You are invited to visit our website www,CaveGarden.com where you can see Cathy on an eight-foot ladder picking.  And, visit our garden at 3600 Anne Street, three houses behind Crossroad Coffee Shop by Forest Hill Park. Make a Saturday morning of it. Visit the Forest Hill Southside Farmers Market (best and biggest in Richmond) and come by between 10am and 12am for a tour. If you are not amazed, you will be the first unamazed visitor. We have had people knock on door to compliment or to request a tour. Gardening increases one's fun and freedom especially when you add up all the new friends you make thus fulfilling the Old English origin of friend: Freedom.

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